BioWare should release an alternate ending to Mass Effect 3

Obviously I’m going to talk about the ending of Mass Effect 3 in here, so spoiler warning.

I actually loved the ending of Mass Effect 3. Seriously, I really did. I loved that Shepard got dealt a bad hand and didn’t know how to deal with it. I loved that the Crucible was a bust and the Catalyst was a jerk. I loved that the choices I made mattered despite the fact that the ending cinematic didn’t spoon feed me exposition explaining how they mattered. In the end, Shepard realized that no matter how many aliens he had sex with, no matter how many reporters he punched, some things were just bigger than he was, and there are times when certain elements are outside of your control. I’m happy with that, and I’m happy that BioWare didn’t actually screw that up with the Extended Cut.

But, at the same time, I totally believe that BioWare should create and release an alternate ending that completely changes everything.

Unless a new ending is offered by playing DLC, every piece of additional content is essentially a needless prequel, fleshing out a world that’s about to be wiped clean. According to BioWare, next week’s Leviathan DLC is “Set during ME3’s harrowing Reaper invasion,” and it “tasks Commander Shepard with tracking down an elusive entity that, according to legend, may wield the power to defeat a Reaper.”

But… it doesn’t. Everyone knows it doesn’t. There’s no way the weapon thing Shepard is looking for will wield the power to defeat a Reaper because, otherwise, that would totally change the ending of the game, and BioWare likely would have revealed that intention months ago. You know that the beacon or signal he going after is going to be a trap, or a ruse, or something else that doesn’t end with Shepard strapping a giant cannon onto the top of the Normandy and blasting apart ancient robots.

Sure, it’ll be fun, and it’ll flesh out the galaxy or the history, and it’ll give us an excuse to dive back into a universe we’ll likely never get to explore again for several years, but so what? We already know how it ends. It doesn’t matter.

That’s why BioWare should be open to releasing downloadable content that provides a completely new ending to Mass Effect 3--not because Mass Effect 3’s regular ending is broken or needs fixing, but because it is the only way downloadable content will actually matter. It has already confirmed that it’s working on a ton of post-release content, and it’s likely that a majority of it will be new plotlines for DLC, so it might as well make it take place near the end of the campaign, instead of randomly shoved into the middle.

What if the entity Shepard finds in Leviathan actually does have the power to defeat a Reaper? That would change everything. Maybe it would allow them to actually win the war instead of just hitting a green, red, or blue galaxy-wide reset button.

On that note, what if Shepard decides to just fight the Reapers head on? What if he’s allowed to just… run? What if he could infiltrate some weird Reaper base and upload a virus, Independence Day style. Would these be better than the ending that shipped with the game? Not likely. Would they be worth playing to see other possible options? Absolutely. Other options can be added post-release that change the conclusion, because it’s not like save data from ME3 is going to transfer over to whatever comes next.

Allowing DLC to change the ending of Mass Effect 3 would fix this, and everything else. Fans of the original ending can ignore the new mission or the new continuity if they want, just as they ignored any alternate storylines in their main campaign. It really wouldn’t be much different from choosing to kill or save the Rachni in Mass Effect or deciding who lives or dies during the conclusion of Mass Effect 2. Meanwhile, those that complained about the conclusion can finally get what they want: a new ending, be it a happier one, a sadder one, or simply a different one.

But more importantly, creating DLC that could have the potential to drastically change the end of the game wouldn’t hurt anyone. It wouldn’t be sacrificing the writers’ artistic vision or giving in to “fan” pressure--it would just be doing what Mass Effect has done from the beginning: Giving players more choice.

Honestly, even if people unanimously loved the ending of ME3 I’d still be lobbying for this. If BioWare opens itself up to releasing ending-changing DLC then the content can actually mean something, otherwise everything has to be set back to the way it was at the beginning at the end, and that’s just sort of a waste.

You know that kid at parties who talks too much? Drink in hand, way too enthusiastic, ponderously well-educated in topics no one in their right mind should know about? Loud? Well, that kid’s occasionally us. GR Editorials is a semi-regular feature where we share our informed insights on the news at hand. Sharp, funny, and finger-on-the-pulse, it’s the information you need to know even when you don’t know you need it.


DLC Mass Effect


  • slimjim441 - August 27, 2012 6:45 p.m.

    I know exactly what you mean. But listen to this. Rumor is, that the Leviathan DLC DOES add a varied ending to the game if you play your cards right. They say that you can coerce this 'rogue reaper' to actually fight with you with whatever trick it's got up its sleeve to reveal a new ending, but they also say that it's supposed to be REALLY hard to gain the guy's trust. There's no definitive info on whether any of that is legit or not, but I guess we'll find out tomorrow...
  • rainn'sgaydar - August 27, 2012 7:26 p.m.

    As a fan of the original ending as well, I'm totally with you on this, Coop. I would love an excuse to jump back into the universe and experience something with a little more weight than the Extended Cut did or Leviathan appears to, especially since it wouldn't affect my real ending. It'd be more like the alternate ending to Rocky Balboa where he actually wins. Meaning, it's fun to watch but too far fetched to work as canon. Something like that will bring me running back to that universe. Leviathan barely has me motivated to do a renegade run through 3 right now
  • Sinosaur - August 27, 2012 7:48 p.m.

    This is just leading into the idea that more games need 'What If?' type DLC of something set in the same world, but something crazy happens. RDR did it with Undead Nightmare, and that was incredibly fun, plus you didn't have to play through however many hours of the campaign again if you'd beat it already. Cross product style, what if the Enterprise or the TARDIS showed up just before the battle against the Reapers?! sounds kind of stupid, but I'd happily play it.
  • ParagonT - August 28, 2012 5:05 a.m.

    Dear God yes. 0.0
  • Bloodstorm - August 27, 2012 9:06 p.m.

    I wasn't a huge fan of ME3's ending, not because it was 'sad' or 'dark' but because, to me, there was no meaning behind my sacrifice. I didn't feel like I was making the ultimate decision of my life for the galaxies. Any DLC released that has no effect on that, has no real purpose for me. I enjoyed the game as a whole to no end, even voting for it for GOTY in the Golden Joystick Awards over Arkham City, but without adding some new twist to the end of the game, it's not worth my money. It's not going to have any bearing on future games like ME2 DLC did because this is the end of the trilogy, so it has to change the ending, or it just doesn't make sense to add to it.
  • ThePrivateer - August 27, 2012 9:58 p.m.

    Hollander, you are much, much better at this opinion pieces than Dave. I haven't been keeping up with GR too much in recent times, mainly because of him. But this is really well written and gets me thinking. Thanks for it.
  • paul212 - August 27, 2012 10:21 p.m.

    You know after reading the article I mentally prepared myself for reading a bunch of hate comments, then BOOM a bunch of awesome people posted without calling anyone stupid, questioning each others sexuality or using massive amounts of curse words...for this short time I am proud. Also I totally agree.
  • Shinn - August 27, 2012 10:31 p.m.

    Yes, absolutely. We know that there will be dlc for this game, but we know exactly how the entire game goes. This is Bioware's endgame, with ME2 and ME1, there was always the idea that the dlc events could influence your future Shepard. Now that that's not possible, I think it's a great idea that EA and Bioware could effectively make ME3 a completely different game through dlc. There were a lot of moments during ME3 in which Bioware was obviously trying to show us how big an impact our smaller decisions can make. Conrad and Jenna being the first that come to mind. It was surprising that something as huge as having someone who had fought reapers for his entire life had less impact on the story of the game than shooting bottles with Garrus.
  • bigwill1221 - August 27, 2012 10:42 p.m.

    BioWare will make a new ending after they created all dlc for anti-reaper weapons... We have prothean, now we have a rogue reaper, what is next... have an alien(organic), have a reaper(synthetics), next thing will probably be some robot/weapon that we can actually use to fight the reapers (or will offer a 4th choice.. hopefully a god damn epic boss battle with Harbinger)
  • TheMariner - August 27, 2012 11:24 p.m.

    All BioWare really needs to do is make Jade Empire 2 and all will be forgiven.
  • BladedFalcon - August 27, 2012 11:28 p.m.

    I do have to agree completely on this. And it doesn't really matter if you like or hated the endings as is, but having more endings, more choices, would make the game worth playing again. And seriously, who wouldn't want additional endings? not just in this game, but in pretty much any non-linear narrative game. That being said, I'm gonna be a cynical stick in the mud here, and say that it's unlikely it will happen, at least with this particular DLC.
  • Vincent Wolf - August 27, 2012 11:34 p.m.

    "I actually loved the ending of Mass Effect 3. Seriously, I really did." Stopped reading after this. But I do agree, ME3 needs whole new good ending.
  • D0CCON - August 27, 2012 11:52 p.m.

    I've accepted that I'll never get my Indoctrination Theory ending, so I have my own way that it plays out in my head that I'll just go ahead and say is canon (it's a fictional universe, so why the hell not)?
  • SentientSquidMachine - August 28, 2012 12:35 a.m.

    Seriously, it was a gift, 20 min. youtube video and all, and they didn't even hint that they were intrigued by the concept. Missed opportunity.
  • ParagonT - August 28, 2012 5:03 a.m.

    Totally missed opportunity, I guess they thought their way was better. Or was it that they couldn't come to terms with the fact that some fans should have help directed the game? Dunno, but the alternate endings was good, but I was a tad bit lacking. But I'm satisfied personally.
  • avantguardian - August 28, 2012 12:22 a.m.

    Sometimes "knowing how it ends" can make something more interesting, if done well. take a well-made out-of-sequence movie, for example. sometimes you can add a certain kind of intrigue knowing what's to come, but not necessarily how it got there. i had no problem knowing my ending to deus ex while playing its dlc. I'm not saying this will be the case with this dlc, but i'm certainly not against the concept. Of course, if they did create new endings, i'll happily play/enjoy them:) Also, agree 100% with coop about the original ending.
  • robotdickens - August 28, 2012 12:32 a.m.

    Bioware should have never listened to fan boys. I'm going to tell you something that should happen with most movies: the hero dies at the end. Is this bad? No it's actually really good. There is no part where we have to see the hero screw up royally at the end and find out our protagonist was a douche. Here's the realistic alternate ending. Shepherd saves the galaxy and wouldn't you know the after party held in his honor holds more space babes than all the first two games combined. Shepherd has massive amounts of sex and all is well. Later, he goes to the doctor to check out some weird discoloration on his skin. Apparently having sex with just about every alien race has given him space herpes. We cut to long years of Shep battling with chemo to which he finally loses. Wasn't that a great ending? No? Hero dies at the end is the best possible decision. And besides, Bioware said the Shepherd saga was over but there will probably be more Mass Effect games. What, did you want a cameo of the new protag teaming up with the old? Boy, that would have been fun!
  • nikrusty - August 28, 2012 3:25 a.m. herpes...Loved it!!
  • Markoose16 - August 28, 2012 4:23 a.m.

    I'm guessing you're one of the people who think that others complained about the ending because Shepard died. Does everyone have to explain it again that it was because of the pick a colour ending and several other things, none of which were Shepard died.
  • ParagonT - August 28, 2012 4:59 a.m.

    Agree there, but there's no point in repeating this scenario again. If they're interested in the real reasons, they can hop back to older articles when the problem was in full swing. The "entitled" calling group seriously needs to quit being egotistical and actually know the real reasons before sounding like an ass. But will that ever happen? Doubt it.

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